Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Customers' International Online Trust - Insights from Focus Group Interviews

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Customers' International Online Trust - Insights from Focus Group Interviews

Article excerpt


While scholars have made an extensive research contribution on the field of customersonline trust towards domestic retailers, customers' international online trust has not yet attracted researchers' attention. Following the extensive expansion of customers' online purchasing the purpose of this paper is to gain a deeper knowledge of the multidimensionality of trust in customer international online trust. In this paper trust is discussed and explored on three analytical levels: trust towards country of origin (COO), trust towards retailers, and retailers' website. Using data from five focus group interviews, the findings show that in an international online context the multidimensionality of trust is even more complex than previously assumed. At first sight the study reveals the importance of trust toward the COO of the retailer, the retailer's website, and the retailer itself. But interestingly the study revealed that third parties had a significant impact on customer international online trust and decreased the impact of customerstrust towards COO, websites, and retailers.

Keywords: Customersinternational online trust, Country-of-origin, Website, Retailer, Third parties

1 Introduction

The expansion of the Internet and the different market communication channels has expanded the market for retailers and alternatives for consumers. With a rapid expansion of the use of the Internet, firms have seen the opportunities in being part of a global market with global consumers. In the World Wide Web consumers around the world can purchase products and services from retailers with different origins in their homes whenever it suits them. However, despite the accelerated growth of e-commerce during the past years, the industry has still not reached its full potential as predicted [17], [27]. In Sweden for example, the Swedish turnover in online purchasing in 2003 was SEK 4.9 billion, and in 2010 it had reached SEK 25 billion [17]. The online shopping systems in Sweden are well developed, and approximately 90 % of the Swedish population has purchased from the Internet. However, only 2 % of Swedish consumers have purchased from foreign online retailers [55]. This raises important questions, such as why some consumers purchase from foreign online retailers and others do not. In the traditional online literature, trust has become an important concept in explaining consumers' online behavior. Lack of trust might be one of the reasons why customers do not purchase from international retailers and instead buy from domestic retailers.

Trust has been explored extensively in recent decades in customersonline shopping behavior [1], [11], [18], [29], [35], [49], [54], [56], [59], [64]. Firms need to create customer trust for long-term relationships [14], [16], [22]. Customer trust is crucial in online exchange [56], [60]. The reason some consumers do not shop online is their lack of trust, which in turn increases the level of uncertainty and the risks involved in engaging in an online exchange [56], [59]. Yet the level of uncertainty is expected to be even higher when it comes to international online exchanges. While researchers up to now have mainly studied domestic online behavior, it is important to explore cross-border purchasing behavior and understand what other factors affect trust. This is not only important from a theoretical point of view, but also for practitioners in their future challenges for adapting their online marketing strategies to entice foreign customers to engage in international online exchange with them.

Laroche [43] p. 915 states: "The Internet market has become an integral part of marketing strategy. Marketers must understand how customers use the Internet to make decisions, select brands and transact with Internet providers". This study goes beyond the existing literature, which mostly investigates trust toward domestic online stores. The question that arises in this study is what affects consumers' trust toward online retailers of different national origin. …

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